Leah Stein, Hoist. Pictured: dancers Jungwoong Kim, Michele Tantoco, and David Konyk. Photo by Michael Bartmann.
Leah Stein, battle hymns, San Francisco Choral Society. Pictured: dancers Michele Tantoco and Jumatatu Poe. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Leah Stein, Bellows Falls. Photo by Michael Bartmann
“Improvisation rides that line between the known and the unknown, a border I find infinitely exciting and generative. Movement arises out of necessity, out of spontaneity in a state of listening, responsiveness, and authenticity.”
Leah Stein’s choreographic practice intertwines improvisation and audience interaction in site-specific works that illuminate the connections among the body, sound, and location. “I focus on an open state of attention and presence,” Stein says. “I find that to spend even an hour tuning my attention, listening deeply, not blocking anything out, is transformative, a radical act in an age of distraction.” In 2001, she founded Leah Stein Dance Company (LSDC), built on her commitment to making dances in unexpected sites—Bartram's Garden, Fairmount Water Works, and Eastern State Penitentiary, among others—and collaborating with artists across disciplines. With LSDC, Stein has commissioned scores from composers Pauline Oliveros, David Lang, and Byron Au Yong, and collaborated with the Mendelssohn Club chorus and Pew Fellow and dancer Germaine Ingram. Her most recent projects include Bellows Falls, an homage to her late father staged at Philadelphia’s Iron Factory; Portraits, a series of duets commissioned by and performed at Woodmere Art Museum; and battle hymns, a large-scale, site-specific dance performed to an original score by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, supported by the Center. Stein is the recipient of a 2017 Art and Change Award from the Leeway Foundation, a 2010 Independence Foundation Fellowship, and two Fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.